The Airstream Diary

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The Sun Finally Shined

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The sun finally shined on the ground at A&P Vintage in Cottondale, and we were able to unroll the marmoleum, cut it to fit and we have liftoff!

In three days of intense and windy work, our “Full Monty” is now fully dressed – back together again and in one piece. These last three days were the kinds of intense work days that went fast and left us spent.

If you decide to use the sheet marmoleum for your Airstream restoration, be sure to remember the width of marmoleum means you will have to “splice” in some extra length into the width for full coverage. The more we look at the material we used for the back compartment (below the bed), the more we like it.

Once we were certain that the shell was going back onto the frame, I clamped a GoPro 3 camera into the shell and let the camera roll.

The things we had to contend with, as the reassembly got underway were; 1) a brand new nest of freshly hatched wrens had made our front endcap home, 2) Now it would matter if it rains, so the roof had to be secured, 3) unexpected things like that custom made angled steel at back of trailer being completely misaligned.

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING
When trying to reconstruct something from nothing, as is the case with an Airstream Trailer with tail rot, sometimes you hit it, but most of the time you miss it. Think about it. We were cutting templates for the rear deck (marine grade plywood) where there was no deck – completely gone and rotted away. We missed by distance and circumference just a bit, but enough to cause me to have to plug in the plasma cutter and amputate the angle iron at the rear of the trailer. That was depressing after I had sandwiched it in with calk plywood and a pretty strip of shiny aluminum (that would’ve formed the back compartment top). These are the kinds of things that happen to you if you work on an Airstream trailer. To begin with, they aren’t exactly made by robots on an assembly line, so even if we copy a cut, a wedge or some funny angle … well, maybe we shouldn’t have. It’s a healthy point of view to question everything you see on the way down, and on the way back up when rebuilding your Airstream.

ROOFING
Once the shell was sitting on the deck, we knew we had to get the top sealed in order to protect the interior now floored with Marmoleum. We went with two of the Fantastic Fans with the simple configuration offered in the 4000R model. The “R” is for reversible, and the 4000 doesn’t have a thermostat or rain sensor. While Fantastic Fan is the dominant maker of RV fans, they really lock you into their configurations. I certainly would have gone for a remote control for this base model, but you have to move up to those with all the extras to get to a remote. So, I guess I’ll be the one getting up to turn the fan on/off on the middle of the night.

TIP – When removing the old cowling for the original Airstream roof fans, which is what you have to do if you are installing after market Fantastic Fans in your vintage Airstream – use a sharp heavy duty putty knife and hammer it under the top lip, through the calk, and simply cut the rivets by hammering the blade right through them. It works great!

I was the old fan cowling remover, and Leslie was the new fan installer. I did do the cutting of the opening – squaring the round corners, but I based it on the foam gasket which is still not big enough. DON’T USE THE PROVIDED FOAM GASKETS. Once you get the opening the right size, use Sikaflex as your gasket and top the screws after hand tightening them in with a screwdriver. Sikaflex is your friend. If you don’t get in a hurry, you’re looking at at least an hour to two hours to do this install.

We have not one, not two, not three, but four openings in the top of the Safari. Three were host to fans, and the fourth is a rough cut opening were the A/C was installed post factory. We know with the quality and efficiency of new fan technology that we will be fine with two fans and (for global warming) a 15-thousand BTU air conditioner. That means we have a large hole to deal with and more …

As we spent time on the roof (staying on the main beams), we found a couple of interesting holes in the roof, and I already knew we were looking at a patch where there was a giant glob of rubber calk covering a hole for some sorry old antenna. So we have new holes and old holes. Although the fans are both in, I think we are going to get a lot of roof time.

We’re about half way done with attaching the shell back to the frame, so I will shoot some photos to show the details of how that’s done once we get some good weather and back out there again. It may be a week.

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